Even though we spent the night in Galesburg, Illinois — Near Knox College, Clare decided that Knox didn’t have the aesthetics she needed. In addition, a train practically runs through the campus several times a day. We drove to the school, but Clare decided not to visit, and head out to Cornell College earlier than we’d planned.
The drive to Mount Vernon, Iowa got much prettier once we got out of Illinois. I was pleasantly surprised that Southeastern Iowa is beautiful. The green countryside is hilly, similar to Ireland, without the sheep and hedgerows.
We got to Mount Vernon the back way. It is a lovely little town — which I sort of expected. See, besides visiting Mount Vernon for the college it holds, this leg of the trip was a sort of pilgrimage for me. My favorite musician, Dan Bern, grew up there. His father, the late Julian Bern, taught at Cornell College and his mother still lives near Cedar Rapids (of which Mount Vernon is sort of a suburb).
The folks at Cornell are very friendly and we had a lovely, but uncomfortably hot, tour given by a enthusiastic rising junior named Kelly who kept on referring to “This side of the Mississippi” meaning the west side of the Mississippi which made me start each time she said it. Clare really liked the college. One difference Cornell College has is that students take only 1 course at a time for 3.5 weeks. I think that Clare would really shine in an environment that way as she tends to focus well.
We spoke to the same very nice admissions counselor as we did in the fall, when she visited Bethesda. She remembered Clare and encouraged Clare to come back in the fall when classes were in session.
After the tour and brief interview, we headed towards Coe in Cedar Rapids. The admissions office was closed and although Clare, at first, thought the anesthetics were ok at Coe, she soon thought, “eh” when we drove past it on the highway.
We left Cedar Rapids and headed back across the Mississippi River. Clare said she was hungry about the time we hit Davenport, so we decided to stop in Rock Island, Illinois after 2 hours. That way our trip to Elgin would be only 2 hours. We found a hotel and had a nice dinner at the Candellite Inn, which is across the street from the hotel, where the specialty was “Chicken George” — pretty good chicken tenders. We got some take out boxes, thinking that we could take the rest of the food home to my dad, who likes to eat — anything.
We got back to the hotel and began to settle in. I thought I’d call my mom to let her know we were on our way (I’d told her, last weekend, we might be visiting during the college tour and she said that would be fine) and couldn’t reach her on her mobile nor home phone. After a few minutes she called back on her mobile and let me know she and dad were in Wisconsin. With Wendy and Don. She said that since she didn’t know when we were coming she decided to go to Wisconsin. I wish she had let me know that was her plan, because we may have done this trip differently.
I called Kevin, but got an answering service instead, and thought we were kind of screwed in the visiting relatives department — the Follmans are on their way to Wisconsin today, mom and dad are in Wisconsin, and I couldn’t reach Kevin.
Eventually Kevin called back and said he’d be around and invited us to stay with him. Which is good as we are closer to Batavia than Elgin anyway.
Clare and I slept in (Clare doesn’t think we slept in, as it is only 8 am here in Central Time Zone) and will have breakfast at the American Bar and Grill, then head east to Batavia.